A local taxi company owner is taking safety concerns and preventative measures into his own hands.
Russ McCloy, owner of Checker Cabs in Prince Albert, installed a custom-built safety shield into one of his vans Tuesday, making him the first owner in the city yo take the step.
"It's a shame it has to come to this," said McCloy, who didn't want to install the shields in the first place.
"But it's no use pretending this (crimes against taxicab drivers) isn't a problem," McCloy said, speaking of the rash of taxicab crimes recently.
McCloy said his obligation to provide safety for his drivers far outweighed the $600 price tag of the shields. He wouldn't be opposed to legislative measures.
He said the latest assault, involving a machete on one of his drivers, was the tipping point for the shield purchases.
"After that attack, there were cab drivers that actually quit, " McCloy said.
After a lot of research on other shield models left him unhappy with design principles, McCloy decided to put it in the hands of local fabricators ,Bassik Audio.
Co-owners of the three-year-old local shop Blayne and Bryce Lewis said they were happy to help, and were proud of the design.
They said the design is unique in that the base of the shield is angled toward the front bucket seats, which offer comfort and room for passengers.
Blayne Lewis is six-foot-five and can comfortably sit in the back seat.
They also have a mock-up for a cash box that will open and close from the front of the divider for even more added security.
According to Blayne Lewis, the glass used in the divider is extremely strong.
"You could hit this with a sledgehammer and it wouldn't touch it," said Blayne Lewis confidently.
The Lewis' gave a lot of credit to McCloy who gave the brothers creative control in the process, calling the project a collaborative effort.
McCloy plans to outfit his seven vans first then move on to his Toyota Camry hybrids.
By this Friday, four new shields will be installed.
Sherry Ouellette, owner of Grey Cab, is opposed to any sort of legislation concerning technologies to procure driver safety, but said she was open to it on her own.
"I don't believe I need the city telling me how to run my business," said Ouellette, adamant she will fight if the city attempts to mandate anything.
Ouellette said the greatest defence in taxicabs are the radios and even implores her drivers to trust their instincts.
"If is gets to the point that everybody is afraid for their safety on a day to day basis I would close my doors," she said
Ouelette said she is open to other safety devices, but said the shields don't mesh with her business model, explaining the separation shields take away from the client experience.
McCloy said he isn't optimistic the crime against cab drivers would slow down.
"If I want people willing to drive a taxi after dark, I have to be able to protect them."